Here’s How the Original Animators of ‘The Lion King’ Feel About The Remake
Disney’s summer domination at the box office is being upheld by its live-action remake of The Lion King, a star-studded film that blends the old with the new. 1994’s animated version cemented itself as a classic, and nostalgia for that movie is part of the allure for Jon Favreau’s CGI redo.
Strides have been made with movie-making technology, but the tale itself is the heart of The Lion King. With that said, fans were eager to relive the magic and compare 2019’s take with the original. But there’s another group of people making comparison: animators who worked on the original.
Animators were tracked down and asked their opinions
Huff Post reached out to 13 members of the artistic team from the original 2D Lion King. Out of that number, three said they’ll be skipping the remake, and another three were willing to speak to the outlet—separately—about their thoughts on the new outing. Like the rest of the world, they were divided.
One of the artists, David Stephan, is not a fan. Stephan worked on the hyenas and the “Circle of Life” scene, was vocal about the film being redone, the 2019 actors, and the character renderings:
“If you polled the crew of the original ‘Lion King,’ most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts.
I thought the performances were weak. I mean, they were so wooden. But there were a few scenes where there were a couple of expressions and suddenly it was a little more alive.”
The other animators who responded had warmer feelings about the new version. Dave Bossert loved it and was impressed with the visuals, and felt it paid homage to the original. He also thought the voice actors did a wonderful job and found Seth Rogan, James Earl Jones, and John Oliver to be among his favorites. But he agreed with Stephan that the digitized characters could have been more expressive, especially in the face.
Alexander Williams was also a fan of the movie as a whole. He enjoyed the voices in the new flick and cautioned that people shouldn’t be quick to shut down the hyper-realism seen in this one. Williams was involved with creating the original Scar, and said in the ‘90s version, the animation techniques that were used were revolutionary for the time. It’s the nature of animation to change.
He also praised Disney as a company and noted that if they want to remake their entire film catalog, they have the right to do that.
The one thing they agreed on had to do with technology
All of the animators agree that tech has come a long way and will continue to change how films are made. Future advancements will lead to more sophisticated designs when it comes to characters and landscapes, and audiences will either love it or hate it.
A couple of the artists noted the difference between the technology that created Polar Express to what is available now. Things don’t have to look so stiff anymore. Characters—human, animal, or other—have gained the ability to move with more fluidity in films.
To these animators, the evolution of tech will create digital worlds that go beyond today’s concept of live action. We ain’t seen nothing yet!